Animal and poultry sciences gets record funding
As temperatures rise across the globe, heat stress in livestock has become an increasingly important area of research in animal science.
Overheated animals produce less meat, and Rob Rhoads, associate professor of animal and poultry sciences, is attempting to find answers to questions about livestock’s decreased ability to produce muscle tissue as the mercury climbs into the high double and triple digits.
He recently received funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture to explore myriad topics in animal science — including meat production.
Rhoads was one of several faculty members from the Department of Animal and Poultry Sciences who received funding from the USDA, resulting in a record $3 million in grants from the agency.
“The fact that we received such a high amount of funding is a reflection of not only the cutting-edge science we are doing, but also of the potential impact that all this work has on society,” said David Gerrard, the department head.
Other faculty members who were part of the $3 million in funding awarded to the department include Assistant Professors Elizabeth Gilbert and Mark Cline, who will study protein manipulation and appetite in chickens; Associate Professor Sally Johnson, who will study the impact of early life nutrition on muscle growth in cattle; and Gerrard, along with Jason Scheffler and Assistant Professor Samer El-Kadi, who plan to define postharvest biochemical mechanisms in animals.
Rhoads is working in conjunction with Iowa State University to study how heat stress affects swine metabolism and reduces muscle growth.
“When people think of heat stress, they think of very hot places like Arizona, but everywhere in the world animals will experience some level of heat stress,” said Rhoads.
The study of animal and poultry sciences is often translatable to the human condition. Rhoads hopes that his research will help further explain heat-related illnesses in humans.